Guest Blog by: Amruta Pradhan
Background Three rivers (among some others) with a total length of 44km traverse through Pune city. Mula river flows a distance of 22.2 km, Mutha River 10.4 km and Mula-Mutha River 11.8 km. Plight of these rivers is well known. They have been featured in the list of 300 most polluted rivers of India. Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), Maharashtra Water Resources Department (WRD) etc. have pulled number of controversies over river pollution, illegal construction of roads and townships through river bed and most recently Pune Metro being proposed through the river bed. Making a case for ‘rejuvenation’ of the ‘neglected rivers’, PMC has now proposed Pune Riverfront Development Project (PRDP). The project has been designed by the same HCP Design Planning & Management Pvt. Ltd (HCP) led by Ar. Bimal Patel from Ahmedabad who conceived and implemented Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project (SRFDP).
In September 2014 SANDRP in its article “Riverfront Development in India: Cosmetic make up on deep wounds” had raised serious issues regarding several riverfront development projects sprouting across India. Following the footsteps of SRFDP these projects treat rivers as extension of urban spaces and are more about encroachment of floodplains and river beds for real estate than restoration. Pune’s Mula-Mutha Riverfront Project being one among them, maintains the same focus. The project also shows several signs of an ill planned project which may exacerbate the risk of flooding and may take a severe toll on water quality and river health. This article questions some underlying assumptions upon which the project has been designed. Draft Master Plan (DMP) of the project prepared by HCP has been referred as a base document. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report of the project is of a poor quality and devoid of even basic information about the project. Thus was not referred for details. Continue reading “Pune Riverfront Development Project: Encroachment in the name of Rejuvenation?”
Several organisations of Pune came together this year to celebrate the India Rivers Day in an unprecedented way. The events started from Nov 24 onwards and continued to Nov 28, and even on Dec. 1 morning, Jeevitnadi key persons had a 90 minutes Muthai River walk with some of the top officials (PMC Commissioner Saurabh Rao, Asstt Commissioner & all department heads) of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). Jeevitnadi- Living River Foundation started celebrating Nov 28 as India Rivers Day in Pune from 2015 onwards in the name of “Muthai Mahotsav”. Continue reading “Amazing India River Day 2018 celebrations in Pune”
Like almost all urban areas, Pune’s seage management has been dismal. In a recent Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed against Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in National Green Tribunal (NGT) for failing to control water pollution in Mula Mutha Rivers it was revealed that several crucial details regarding sewage generation and disposal in Pune city remain unknown even to PMC. PMC failed to furnish even the basic details like present and future generation of domestic sewage (from 2022- 2025), present handling capacity and performance of STPs for six months.[i]
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has recently agreed to extend a loan of 1000 Cr. to PMC under project ‘pollution abatement of River Mula-Mutha’.[ii] Utilizing this funding PMC has proposed to build 11 new sewage treatment plants (STPs) with treatment capacity of 396 MLD (Million Litres per Day). It is hard to imagine that PMC who celebrated the signing of the loan agreement in January 2016 was not in position to furnish even the basic details about sewage generation and treatment in May 2016.
Currently in Pune there are total ten STPs with installed capacity of 567 MLD. Five of them have been funded by PMC while the other five have been funded by JNNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission) Phase I. Operation & Maintenance (O&M) of these plants has been outsourced by PMC to various contractors. Treated effluent is being discharged in the rivers Mula, Mutha Rivers. PMC recently admitted in the print media that though the installed capacity of its existing STPs was to treat 567 MLD, only 290 MLD was being treated at present.[iii] The balance – almost 50% of the sewage – is going into the river untreated. Pune’s Rivers are some of the most polluted in the country. Continue reading “My visits to Pune’s Sewage Treatment Plants: Citizens Not Allowed!”
Above: Dying rivers, as they leave Pune Photo: Parineeta Dandekar
In May, decision of Pune’s Guardian Minister and head of canal committee of releasing 1 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) water from Khadakwasla Dam to downstream regions of Daund and Indapur saw huge protests from the city’s political parties and civic administration. Ensuring that Pune suffers no further water cut, even when downstream regions face historic drought, seems to have become the Mayor’s crusade. Keeping urban areas insulated and away from a terrible water crisis has its own major equity issues.
Pune is a water surplus city in upper riparian region of Krishna Basin. In a report “Reimagining Pune: Mission Smart City” submitted to Urban Development Department by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), it is admitted that Pune has water availability of 219 lpcd (liters per capita per day). Even so, the city has been much reluctant to share its water with downstream villages. it has seen barely 20% water cuts since last October.
While discussions and debates about drought revolve around sugarcane, industries, rural water use, irrigation management etc, etc., the growing, unjustified footprint of urban areas generally is left scot free and Pune is a classic example if this.
Here, we take a brief look at PMC’s water supply approach with its monomaniacal supply-side focus. While sourcing much more water than allocated from four upstream dams, PMC has been shirking from its responsibility of treating waste water before releasing it for the downstream. PMC has taken the upstream dams for granted and is planning for expansion of water supply system with 24×7 water supply in near future, relying on more water from these dams. Continue reading “Consume more, Pollute more, Pay less, Ask for more Dams: Pune City’s water policy”